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Pro-Europe Alliance Leads Moldova Vote


Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat, who is the head of the Liberal Democratic Party, one of the three parties that make up the pro-Europe alliance
Near complete results from the November 28 general election put Moldova's ruling pro-Europe alliance ahead of the opposition Communists.

But it is still unclear whether Prime Minister Vlad Filat's three-party Alliance for European Integration (AIE) will gather enough mandates to allow it to elect a president and end a long-running political deadlock.

With more than 95 percent of the votes counted, the alliance led with almost 51 percent of the vote, while the Communists were the single largest party with 40.5 percent.

That proportion would not be enough to give the pro-European alliance the 61 lawmakers in the 101-seat legislature necessary to elect a president.

But Iurie Ciocan, the head of Moldova's Central Election Commission, told the media that almost 65,000 votes were cast by Moldovans living abroad -- a record number, which could translate into four mandates. Some 600,000 Moldovans work abroad and tend to favor the pro-Europe alliance.

Moldova has been without a fulltime president for a year, as the pro-Western coalition that has ruled Moldova since the July 2009 elections has been unable to put together the necessary parliamentary majority to elect a new head of state.

The AIE has pledged reforms and closer ties with the European Union, but has been unable to implement its program due to the political deadlock.

The Communist Party lost its governing majority in those elections, but remained the largest single party in parliament and has succeeded in blocking the election of a president. The Communists favor closer ties with Russia and other former Soviet republics.

Moldovans vote in the town of Gratiesti.
Yet again, 4 million election-weary Moldovans went to the polls on November 28.

In Chisinau, the capital, voter Eugeniu Lazar said he was voting for the Liberal Democratic Party of the AIE "because I want stability, finally, in this country."

Breaking The Deadlock

The election, in a country where former Soviet master Russia and EU neighbor Romania vie for influence, will be a test of how well the four-party ruling coalition has sold a pro-Europe message since taking power 15 months ago.

Those four parties -- the Liberal Democrats, the Democrats, the Liberals, and Our Moldova -- are campaigning in the elections separately.

The AIE has sought to move Moldova, one of Europe's poorest states with an average monthly salary of $230, closer to mainstream European institutions. It is trying to make itself eligible for EU membership one day by improving crumbling infrastructure and government services through funding and aid projects from abroad.

Communist leader Vladimir Voronin expects his party to take back power.
Moldova's interim president, liberal leader Mihai Ghimpu, told journalists after casting his vote that he expects the AIE to secure a majority to be able to elect the new president for a full four-year mandate.

Ghimpu said such a mandate would "bring Moldova closer to the European Union, a better life for citizens, more jobs, pensions, salaries. This is possible [to achieve] in four years, compared to just one year we have had so far."

But the leader of the opposition Communist Party, Vladimir Voronin, expressed confidence that his party would regain the power it lost last year. Voronin told reporters after casting his ballot that he expected the Communists to secure a constitutional majority.

"I have voted first of all to end the almost two-year-long political crisis, I have voted for the development of our country for the improvement of our citizens' life and for the European future of our country," Voronin said.

written by Abubakar Siddique with reporting from RFE/RL's Moldovan Service correspondent Alexandru Eftode, and agency material
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